This was my first visit to a London Chamber Music Society series at Kings Place. I was mostly attracted by Britten Les Illuminations song cycle in the programme. This resulted to be a very nice concert.

Camerata Tchaikovsky is a well sized string orchestra made up with Russian players (some living in London and some of them probably joining from Russian for these concerts). It was clear, from they way they played that they invest a very good amount of time in rehearsal of each individual work, so each of the sections learns how to listen to each others and play accurately.

The programme of this concert was eclectic and you could hardly find a link between any of the works on it. Anyway it made sense to start with Mozart Divertimento K136 as a light work to warm up players and audience. Substantial old school Mozart playing, full of vibrato but not too dramatic. Quite enjoyable.

Next piece was a world premiere by Arturo Cuellar: Concertino for strings, that was actually a bassoon and strings short concerto. The composer himself took the stage to conduct the chamber orchestra. I suspect than he did not because the syncopated rhythms really required it but also for the joy of being on the podium. I suspect that the composer was actually paying the orchestra or the LCM to get his work played, so he can add it to the list of the great cities where his works have been performed. The music itself was not very interesting: a first movement with some minimalistic repeating patterns, a middle slow simple lyrical movement and the conclusion. Not real development of ideas, and nothing serious. At least it was short and easy-listening.

Then the Swedish soprano Karin Dahlberg joined the orchestra to perform Britten Les Illuminations. Delightful. She was very expressive though all the cycle, taking special care on the accents and gestures that compensated somehow the extra powerful singing.

After the intermission a wonderful rendition to the lyricism in Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence in the full string orchestra arrangement. Russian strings know how to play this. Really.

And I am trying to forget the Silent Night encore to keep a good memory of this concert.